Welsh football star Aaron Ramsey is urging people to learn vital CPR and defib skills as he is named Save a Life Cymru ambassador in support of his team doctor, who lost his daughter to cardiac arrest.
The Cardiff City and Wales midfielder is inspired by his team doctor, Len Nokes, who lost his 25-year-old daughter to cardiac arrest in 2017. He wants to increase public awareness of cardiac arrests and the number of people trained in CPR and defibrillation.
Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates remain stubbornly low in Wales at less than 5% – significantly lower than the UK average of 10%. Over 6,000 people will have a sudden cardiac arrest in Wales every year, with around 80% of those happening in the home.
Aaron is championing Save a Life Cymru’s campaign to improve cardiac arrest survival rates. He joins the organisation’s other ambassador, Welsh rugby legend, Shane Williams, who lost a close friend to cardiac arrest as a teenager, in encouraging people to learn or refresh their lifesaving CPR skills.
Recent research also shows that although less than half of adults in Wales are confident in performing CPR (45%), levels of people undertaking training have increased back to pre-pandemic levels.
Last month, team Cymru men’s football team, through the FAW and Save a Life Cymru, received CPR and defibrillator familiarisation training. This is part of a wider initiative by the FAW and Save a Life Cymru to offer free training courses to all FAW clubs, leagues, and area associations in Wales – as well as a vision to place a defibrillator outside every grassroots club in Wales.
A cardiac arrest can happen to men and women of all ages, at any place, at any time – regardless of the health of the individual. Distinguished sports stars – including retired Cardiff Rugby eight man Nick Williams and Danish football player Christian Eriksen – are amongst those who have fortunately survived.
“Save a Life Cymru does important work to raise awareness of cardiac arrest within the community. It is something I am passionate about and I’m proud to be named as one of their ambassadors. I’ve been very close to Len Nokes, my team doctor, since I was a teenager. We’re all one big family, and I wanted to do something that helps raise awareness and support Len.
“Now I’ve received CPR familiarisation training with the FAW, I feel confident I could intervene if I was in a difficult situation and witnessed a cardiac arrest.
“I think many people might feel like they might injure the person or do something wrong, but that is not the case. Even if you haven’t had any training and you are in this situation, call 999 and they will talk you through everything – doing something is better than doing nothing.
“Learn CPR. It only takes 15 minutes to become aware of the basic skills. You could take some time to teach yourself during half time watching a football match – that’s how quick it is to learn CPR. It could be the most important life lesson and the difference between life and death.”
Len Nokes, Medical Director of Cardiff City FC and Chair of Save a Life Cymru said:
“It’s great to have Aaron on board supporting Save a Life Cymru and our “Help is closer than you think” campaign. It’s something that’s particularly important for me – after losing my daughter Claire to cardiac arrest at 25 years old.
“If someone is unconscious and they’re not breathing normally, it’s likely they’re having a cardiac arrest. We want to make sure that every person has the best chance of surviving – so educating people on spotting the signs, the importance of calling 999 and starting CPR is crucial.
“We need to build confidence and show people they’re not on their own. Call 999, they will tell you what to do, where your nearest defib is located and send an ambulance. I’d also encourage people to take time to learn CPR – you never know when you’ll need to put those skills into action.”
If a cardiac arrest happens, call 999. The call taker will tell you what to do, talk you through how to do CPR and direct you to the nearest registered defibrillator and they will also send an ambulance crew.
You can find out more about CPR and defibrillation training at https://executive.nhs.wales/SaLC
You can also learn CPR in 15 minutes for free through RevivR here: https://www.bhf.org.uk/revivr